LONG POND, Pennsylvania — Lightning strikes at a Pennsylvania raceway after a rain-shortened NASCAR race killed one fan and injured nine others, one critically, racetrack officials said.
Multiple lightning strikes occurred behind the Pocono Raceway racetrack’s grandstands and outside one of the gates as fans were leaving Sunday, Pocono spokesman Bob Pleban said. It wasn’t immediately clear how many of the fans were actually struck by the lightning itself or were injured by related jolts.
“Unfortunately, a member of our raceway family here, a fan, has passed away,” Pocono President Brandon Igdalsky said in announcing the death. He provided no details about the victim but expressed condolences to his family.
Igdalsky later posted on Twitter, “My family and I are praying for all those that were involved in the lightning strikes. ... Difficult evening for all.”
The Pennsylvania 400 was canceled because of storms, with 98 of the 160 scheduled laps completed. As the storm approached, the track posted messages on its Twitter page to more than 22,000 followers near the end of the race encouraging fans to “seek shelter as severe lightning and heavy winds are in our area.”
The attendance was estimated by the track at 85,000. Public address announcements were made before the storm and the end of the race for fans to take shelter and evacuate the grandstands, Pleban said.
Racetrack officials were reviewing the logs of when the announcements were made, he said. There was no order to evacuate the track premises.
Jeff Gordon, who won the race, said at a post-race news conference that he could hear a huge crack as he walked down the pit road during the storm. “You could tell it was very close,” he said. “I mean, that’s the thing that’s going to take away from the victory, is the fact that somebody was affected by that.” — AP